Horseracing can be dangerous with horses tumbling on the ground leading to fatalities of both the animal and the rider. It has made the horse racing industry take up the safety issues on priority to ensure that horseracing becomes safe for everyone concerned. Amid the excitement and thrill, it is hard to hide the risks that arise from the surface of racing tracks, which are responsible for many accidents. The reasons may be many but to find a comprehensive solution to the problem many think that synthetic tracks can reduce the number of catastrophic incidents at the racecourses. The drawbacks of the natural surfaces arising from potholes and unevenness are absent in the case of synthetic tracks that find an extensive application at racing venues across the world including the races that feature on TVG.com.
Not only for safety
Although safety is the prime reason for choosing synthetic tracks over natural surfaces, it is not the only reason that prompted the change. The added benefit that results from synthetic tracks is that it enhances the performance of horses and jockeys who can race much faster. The horses experience minor wear and tear on the leg muscles on synthetic tracks. The difference is so vast that for the sake of performing better, many jockeys would like to race on synthetic tracks only. According to results available from venues that have changed the racing track surface, catastrophic injuries on dirt tracks reduced by 85% since switching over to synthetic tracks.
Synthetic track materials
The first synthetic track similar to Astroturf made its appearance way back in 1966 to replace a turf track but was not able to make enough impact. Gradually, synthetic tracks meant to replace dirt tracks started gaining popularity, and now there are different brands available with different composition of track materials.
- Polytrack – This is one of the most popular synthetic tracks widely used to replace dirt tracks in the UK, U.S, and some parts of Europe and Canada. The track uses recycled carpet, sand, recycled rubber and recycled spandex together with some plastic insulation material to replicate the dirt track with the insulation material proving useful in cold climates.
- Cushion track – The track used in the US and Australia only uses silica, sand, rubber and elastic fiber for creating the dirt like surface and uses a wax coating. First installed at Santa Anita Racetrack it is facing some controversy.
- Tapeta footings – Sand, rubber, fiber, and wax are the constituent materials of this track that is popular in the United Arab Emirates and America only.
Beating bad weather
Another reason for installing synthetic tracks over turf and dirt tracks is to ensure that incidents of cancellation of races due to bad weather are minimal. Manufacturers of synthetic tracks claim that it is equipped with adequate drainage facility that allows the tracks to remain fast in conditions that would have rendered the natural surfaces muddy and make it difficult for horses to move fast.
It is perhaps the secret of synthetic tracks being faster than normal tracks.